Pronunciation: Long or short vowels?

Pronunciation: does a word have a long or short vowel?
Elementary to Intermediate (A1-B1)

One way to find out is to see if it has doubled consonants after it.

Let’s look at 2 words:


The only difference in spelling is that the first word has 2 ‘t’s. This difference does not change the pronunciation of the ‘t’ sound but it does change the vowel sound before the ‘t’ or ‘t’s.

‘matting’ has a short vowel sound before the doubled ‘t’s like the vowel in ‘sat‘. However, ‘mating’ has a long vowel sound after the single ‘t’ as in ‘late‘¬†(in fact the sound is a diphthong).

Different languages use different ways to show whether a vowel letter has a short or long sound. In English, consonants are often doubled to show short vowels. This might seem strange but this is a pattern in English.

Here is another pair of words:

tilling (the first vowel sounds like the sound in ‘in’)
tiling (the first vowel sounds like the sound in ‘my’)

If native speakers see a new word with doubled consonants as in the examples above, they will assume that one has a short vowel before the consonants and the other a long vowel.

Try using this pattern when you see new words and see if it works.
© Copyright 2014